Odors of unwashed dishes, overflowing trash cans of empty pizza and takeout boxes—my aunt’s little kitchen. Chihuahua barks flood my ears and faded wallpaper suffocates my sister and me for two consecutive weeks. Ever since our grandfather was admitted to the hospital for Leukemia, we’ve been staying at home anxiously waiting for some tidbit of good news.. We were tired of hearing vague blanket statements like, “He’s getting better or he will be better soon
”Finally, the parents come and take us to the hospital. I was so excited to see my grandpa again! But that day at the hospital my naïve excitement was stifled by reality. The same person who carried me on his back weeks earlier lied motionless in the bed—lifeless and small. For the first time ever, there wasn’t a smile on his face and it ultimately crushes my heart.
Later that week, while eating my cousin’s birthday cake, my mother received “the telephone call”. As my mother took ‘the call’, she slowly steps out of the room and returns with tears in her eyes and tells us that our grandpa has passed.I drop to the floor with hundreds of knots in my stomach: the one person I always looked up to, the one person who really understood me is gone.
My grandfather’s death is the one event that taught me to be strong and be courageous even when others are not. His death was a shared loss for my family, but we couldn’t all be grieving at once. We had to take turns being there for each other. With his passing came the renewed need to make our once staunch patriarch proud. I pushed myself in my classes, helped my mother around the house, and kept my grandma company when she was down.
Losing my grandpa was and is the biggest loss in my life. Being the youngest grand daughter I thrive to make him proud; to be remembered as more than the baby of my family. It makes me want to do something larger than life. My grandfather spent his final days in the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. As soon as I was able I began volunteering at that hospital not just for him, but for myself as well. For the last two years I have seen tragedy strike on good and honest people in the very hospital my grandfather battled his leukemia. The helplessness of certain situations makes me want to help those in need, to ensure the loss of my grandfather is more than just a memory. His death was his final lesson to me to never give up and to think beyond myself. In a way I am his legacy and prosper to honor his legacy through determination and hard work. I look up to my grandpa every night and hope he holds as much pride in me as I hold in myself.
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